The Liminalist # 134: Comparative Mythologies (Leonard Cohen’s Deep Background, with Ann Diamond)

Part one of a return conversation with Ann Diamond, on the second part of her Leonard Cohen book, Jasun’s book about John de Ruiter, being entwined with one’s subject, working towards forgiveness, Leonard Cohen celebration month, a Silvia Symmonds event, Cohen wall murals and Masonic hand signals, hero worship & scapegoating, Hollywood pedophilia, erasing Kevin Spacey, a systemic reaction, removing the “bad apples,” comply or die, examining our conscious motives for writing an exposé, setting the record straight, breaking the trance state, the emperor’s clothes, the appeal of getting close to power, Cohen’s unknown dark side, the allure of mystery, putting the good side forward, concealing the shadow, metaphors that reveal and conceal, a perfect man, deep background, the Cohen archives, looking for clues in the discards, erasing traces, Cohen’s advancement through secret society ties, an unpublished novel, a trophy collector, a CIA cult, the Process Church in Montreal, John Stahl and pedophilia, ritual murder on Mount Royal, the Op Café, Italian clean-up crews, a series of inflammatory charges, intuition vs. logic, the essence of contradiction, putting down the dark side, a heap of slag for the alchemical process, programmed to self-sabotage, tipping one’s hand to the handlers, narrative reversals, the limits of journalism, a useless source, the question of credibility, choosing one’s target audience.

Mother of Darkness (Ann Diamonds’ blog)

Songs: “Creeping Crazy Time,” by Big Blood;  “Skinny White Girl: by Trailer Bride; “Hey Ho,” by Orbiting Freakshow Orch.

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  1. Posted November 12, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I went to bed after rereading Ruth Wisse’s memoir of 20 years ago on being at McGill with Cohen in 1954

    … which happens to be the year that photo was taken of me, age 3: the year I entered MKULTRA at McGill. It was also “the Marian year” as declared by Pope Pius XII –

    So you can see this all gets complicated. Ruth Wisse, who took an English lit class with Leonard, remembers him as a shy, sweet boy with a sharp critical mind, a little quirky and very confident of his talent. Oddly, in this essay she quotes (twice) from his poem “Ballad” about a woman ritually murdered in a downtown rooming house in 1954 – Cohen rented a room on the same street for a while. So obviously she’s trying to convey something about Leonard that she can’t say straight out. But the poem says it. It’s written as a sly confession – there’s really no other interpretation possible. I havent found anyone who’s written about that poem although i’m sure someone has.

    This is how Cohen made his name back then: by dropping hints that he was a psychopath. And coming on to women in the nicest ways. This was fascinating. Not just to women but to the psychiatrists who programmed him.

    I woke up this morning with the thought: that the people who constantly interviewed him over the years were pretty much the same gang who programmed him. So the interviews were a way of checking back on him.

    The people now vetting his archives and who recently removed a few damning poems that reveal his early cult activity, are performing the same function of making sure no one stumbles on the truth. It’s not easy to formulate all this without calling up a whole subterranean world where secrets are disguised as literary references. Obviously Ruth Wisse knew but couldn’t find a way to mention it in polite society.

  2. Posted November 12, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    So I guess I have to quote the poem, since it’s not easy to find on line:

    My lady was found mutilated
    in a Mountain Street boarding house.
    My lady was a tall slender love,
    like one of Tennyson’s girls,
    and you always imagined her erect on
    in someone’s private forest.
    But there she was,
    naked on an old bed, knife slahes
    cross her breasts, legs badly cut up:
    Dead two days.
    They promised me an early conviction.
    We will eavesdrop on the adolescents
    examining pocket-book covers in
    We will note the broadest smiles at
    torture scenes
    in movie houses.
    We will watch the old men in Dominion
    follow with their eyes
    the secretaries from the Sun Life at
    Perhaps the tabloids alarmed him.
    Whoever he was the young man came
    to see the frightened blonde have
    her blouse
    ripped away by anonymous hands;
    the person guarded his mouth
    who saw the poker blacken the
    of the Roman prisoner;
    the old man pretended to wind his
    The man was never discovered.
    There are so many cities!
    so many knew of my lady and her
    Perhaps he came from Toronto, a half-
    crazed man
    looking for some Sunday love;
    or a vicious poet stranded too long in
    or a Nova Scotian fleeing from the
    rocks and preachers…
    Everyone knew my lady
    from the movies and art-galleries,
    Body from Goldwyn. Botticelli had
    drawn her long limbs.
    Rosetti the full mouth.
    Ingres had coloured her skin.
    She should not have walked so
    through the streets.
    After all, that was the Marian year, the
    the rabbis emerged from their desert
    exile, the year
    the people were inflamed by
    tooth-paste ads.
    We buried her in Spring-time.
    The sparrows in the air
    wept that we should hide with earth
    the face of one so fair.
    The flowers they were roses
    and such sweet fragrance gave
    that all my friends were lovers
    and we danced upon her grave.

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